Through the account, she received a tip from a credible source in August that he was probably living in Southern California under an assumed name. She was able to see his photo, but only on an online memorial website: He died in 2020.
Rivera Garza asked for help from law enforcement contacts in the US to confirm the story, and now believes the man in the photo was indeed Liliana’s ex-boyfriend. She is awaiting final confirmation from Mexican authorities.
The outcome initially disappointed Rivera Garza, pushing her back into a familiar cycle of grief and guilt: If only she’d started looking sooner, if only her sister hadn’t moved to Mexico City. But then she began to think about the purpose of her book and what she ultimately hoped to achieve by capturing Liliana’s story.
“There is a larger concept of justice that also involves preserving the memory and the truth,” Rivera Garza said. “Little by little I realized that the book was basically trying to do that job.”
Rivera Garza began to see grieving as a communal process. The book is “written from a wound I share with so many other families in Mexico, Latin America and around the world,” she said.
Justice of any kind is hard to come by for women like Liliana. In Mexico last year, more than 1,000 murders were officially classified as femicicides – the killing of women and girls because of their gender. According to Impunidad Cero, a think tank, at least half of reported femicides in the country remain unsolved. And most violence against women is not reported at all.
For Rivera Garza, it was challenging to find a way to write about her sister’s death, even in the context of such pervasive violence. At the time, cases like Liliana’s were often described in the press and historical documents as “crimes of passion,” a construct Rivera Garza said implicitly blamed the victim while exonerating the accused. This lack of “dignified and respectful language” kept Rivera Garza from writing her sister’s story sooner, she said.